We all love a generous portion of popcorn. What is not to love? In fact, experts suggest popcorn is a good alternative to other junk food like chips and fried namkeen. Gauri Shingote, CEO & Head of Nutrition, Juvenate Wellbeing Pvt Ltd, said, “If made the right way, which is air popped, and eaten in moderation, popcorn is a fantastic snack. It has got a bad reputation because the popcorn that we eat at the cinema hall or microwaveable versions of popcorn are high on fat and salt-based, with hardly any nutritional value.” However, if you have got weight loss on your mind or have a corn allergy or are simply bored of popcorn, in general, there are many other foods that can help you satiate your popcorn quota.
Makhana (Lotus Seeds)
According to Jasleen Kaur, dietitian and founder of Delhi-based Just Diet Clinic, “Makhanas are a healthier and much better snack. They are a rich source of calcium and contain lesser calories than the usual salted popcorn.” Just like popcorn, lotus seeds too can be eaten with different seasonings like salt and pepper, peri-peri mix, and more.
Shingote says millets like ragi, bajra and jowar, particularly the air-popped ones, can serve as a great alternative to popcorn since they belong to the same category of carbohydrates and cereal foods. But when it comes to health benefits, millets have an upper hand. They have more fibre content and are rich in nutrients like iron and calcium and make for great healthy evening snacks.
Although nuts belong to the protein and oil seeds category, they can be eaten instead of popcorn at snack time. In fact, they are a good source of vegetable fat. However, Shingote suggests you eat them in absolute moderation. “A lot of people take nuts to be a basic misnomer that if you’re hungry, eat nuts. But they often forget that nuts come with added amounts of fat. If eaten in excess quantities, nuts can have the opposite effect,” she adds. So, in case you’re planning to add nuts to your snack time, make sure you eat only a fistful per serving.
For people following a low-fat and high-protein diet, roasted chickpeas are a great low-calorie snack option. They are a good source of protein, carbohydrates and fibre. Also, the other nutrients and minerals available in these contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength.
Air-popped wheat can also be considered as a snack option instead of popcorn. But Shingote suggests, “When you’re buying this at the supermarket, read the label carefully – even if it says all-natural – ensure that there’s no component of fat in it.”
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